Tips for Lawn Care
Do you know what kind of grass you have? In order to get the most out of your lawn, this is important information to have. It impacts how much water your lawn needs, its resistance to pests, shade tolerance, and the amount of nutrients it needs. If you are starting from scratch, research a little to identify the best grass type for your climate and soil type. You may want to consider replanting with a more suitable type, if you have an established lawn that is not quite up to snuff.
The next thing you want to do is test your soil. Soil pH testing kits are available, and are generally inexpensive. Have your soils' fertility tested by your state's cooperative extension service or a commercial soil-testing lab. Then, ask your local nursery for recommendations based on the test results.
Do you know the correct way to water your lawn? All too often, homeowners water too frequently and do not use enough water. The key is to water thoroughly and only when needed. You'll know it's needed when the grass begins to wilt, or the color dulls. Another indicator is when footprints stay compressed for more than a few seconds. Drip hoses are the most efficient method. The next best thing is an in-ground automatic sprinkler system. You'll want to evaluate how long sprinklers should run. After you turn them on, time how long it takes for the water to penetrate four inches into the soil by opening up the ground with a shovel. Be sure to water in early morning or evening...not during peak sun hours.
For best lawn health, mow frequently. Keep in mind that frequent mowing makes grass require more water. Never mow when the grass is wet, and make certain to keep your mower's blades nice and sharp. Never cut more than 1/3 of the grass’s length at a time. If you leave your lawn slightly long, it will produce healthier, more pest-resistant grass.
One good reason to aerate your soil every year is that it helps to clear out thatch: the dead, undecayed material at the soil line. Before aerating, be sure to give your lawn a good, hard raking to loosen up and remove the thatch as this material adds to a number of lawn problems.
The best fertilizers are the organic, slow-release types. Your soil's test results will indicate specific organic fertilizer recommendations. Although you can spread fertilizers by hand, you'll get more uniform coverage with a spreader. Make two passes at opposite angles. It's best to apply fertilizer directly before an expected rain, so at least water the lawn directly after fertilizing.
Finally, use herbicides and pesticides responsibly. Follow package directions to the letter. Apply weed-killers when they first start to grow, before they go to seed. Apply these products with a hose-end sprayer or with a garden spreader.